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Strength in numbers

For our first collaboration with MrBlanc, we visit The Compound Interest: Centre for The Applied Arts to meet a group of inspiring creatives and three resident dogs.

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Strength in numbers

Although The Compound Interest: Centre for The Applied Arts sounds like a serious name, it was actually born as a tongue-in-cheek way to describe a group of businesses coming together and supporting each other. The name made me think of the Bauhaus, of people who believe in the arts filtering down to everyday life, of strength in numbers. Which is not far from reality.

Home to a mix of creative types, the warehouse sits in a Collingwood back street (for readers beyond Melbourne, think Lower East Side, Shoreditch o El Raval). Two galleries that double as event spaces, an artist management agency, multiple web and print design studios, a crafty framer, a photographer, a letterpress printer and even a guy that restores classic vintage motorcycles fill the generous 1,000 square metre space.

The Compound Interest also doubles up as the playpen for the three resident dogs: Levi, Billie and Alfie (Jeremy Wortsman, Kelly Thompson and Tristan Main’s buddies respectively). Levi is an Italian Greyhound with more attitude than body weight (legend says Levi takes on Great Danes down at the park). Billie is a crafty young and restless Beagle that will get away with murder. Alfie, a French Bulldog, is the latest addition to the pack. Alfie spends most of the time hanging out doing his thing and looking slightly amused.

Hanging out at The Compound I wonder about the romantic notion of working in a warehouse with like-minded people, sharing projects, feeding off each other. Do collaborations really happen? Jeremy, the multi-tasking, multi-faceted director of the Jacky Winter Group, confirms: “Definitely. That said, it’s mostly indirect, but that has always been our collective intention in terms of cross pollination, ie. someone might come to a gallery opening for Pin-Up, and buy something from Lamington Drive. They may then get something framed by United Measures, and then decide to get a motorcycle from Christian (from Modern Motor Cycle Company). A meeting might happen with the designers upstairs, and a Jacky Winter commission. There’s a lot of serendipity occurring on a regular basis.” Tristan, from design studio Chase and Galley, adds “We’re always talking typefaces, recommending suppliers and spreading the good word about the nice people we all know.”

We talk to the guys about typesetting, Levi and Billie’s complicated love affair and the artist who got away.

Kelly on Billie’s antics
Billie sure knows how to work it! I have told her off so many times for being naughty and she looks at me, and then I feel like the biggest asshole on earth! I think she does it on purpose. Lately if I discipline her she just sits and stares at me across the room for ages, it’s a stand off like she doesn’t believe I can hold out. Must resist droopy brown eyes. If you put your lunch anywhere near the edge of the table and then leave the room it won’t be there when you get back. I’ve had to buy a fair share of replacement lunches… Billie owes me. She also likes to invite herself up for snuggles, one minute you’re typing away and the next minute there is a Beagle flying onto your knee.

Jeremy on Levi’s quirks
Where to start… I think his leg crossing is definitely a big crowd pleaser. Levi is generally just a 4 kilo quirk really though!

Tristan on Alfie’s ways
We’ve recently started referring to him as the big ‘A’ around the house, he can be quite the boss dog. As for special skills, he likes catching and eating wasps, he does this funny commando crawl whenever he is on grass and his Wookie call is a definite party favourite.

Kelly on The Compound’s magic
My favourite thing about the compound is the activity, there are always lots of things happening, I love watching the de-installs and installs of new exhibitions and seeing familiar faces all the time.

Tristan on a The Compound’s appeal
Probably the great mix of complimentary businesses and tools of production all in the one place. And the dogs of course! Being able to bring Alfie to the Compound for hang-times with Levi and Billie is a massive bonus.

Jeremy on The Compound’s best kept secret
It currently houses the only known baseball batting cage/driving range in the northern suburbs. By appointment only.

Jeremy on the one that got away
In the early Jacky Winter days I signed up Laith McGregor after his VCA graduation show, but it only lasted about 48 hours as he was wise enough to steer his work onto a fine art path, where he has enjoyed some pretty significant successes. It‘s been amazing to follow his career since then – what an amazing talent.

Tristan on Chase&Galley’s approach
For me it started with an interest in the ‘critical’ design that a lot of overseas practices undertake which typically sees graphic design branch out into other fields of inquiry, that was really fresh for me at university. A lot of the programmatic and systems stuff seemed like a whole other way of getting at something that I hadn’t considered before. Eventually though, its kind of all about the content and how best to try and get it to sing.

Kelly on Levi and Billie’s relationship
Billie and Levi both feature on The Jacky Winter website where Billie is recognised as Levis first wife. Levi is pretty camp, so until he’s ready to come to terms with his sexuality Billie is his stand in wife. She’s ok with it, she just likes having someone to sleep beside and wrestle with, and he occasionally practices his moves for when he does meet the man of his dreams. They spend the first two hours of the day playing tag and wrestling with occasional tug of wars over a found rag. Then they have some alone time and choose to finish the day with Levi sleeping on top of Billie. Billie likes to walk Levi, if we leash them up to take them both out together Billie prefers if she leads him with his leash in her mouth.

Jeremy on Jacky Winter
Everyone who works here has the most amazing hair ever. Most people describe coming into the office like walking into a Vidal Sassoon commercial.

Tristan on the art of typesetting
As long as type is around there will be a need for typesetting. With the whole movement towards books and print publishing becoming more specialised and specialty, a need for good typesetting and a respect of text and type is still completely relevant and necessary. The mini boom of smaller type foundries recently has produced some interesting faces that throw up new challenges in setting and application… the pool just seems to get bigger and more varied and that’s pretty exciting.


The Compound Interest Centre for The Applied Arts
Comprising A Small Press, Chase & Galley, The Golden Grouse, Idlewild Press, The Jacky Winter Group, Lamington Drive, Modern Motor Cycle Company, People Collective, New Blank Document, Pinup Project Space, Special Photographic Studios, Studio Propeller, Something Together, United Measures.


Photography by MrBlanc.
MrBlanc is the side project of Australian photographer Cory White. It’s a chance for Cory to spend a bit of time with passionate and talented males. Not so secret men’s business.
To see more of MrBlanc’s one-on-one sessions, visit the site
Check Cory White’s work here

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ISSUE NINE — PRE-ORDER NOW

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